Covid was not the hardest thing Sumaya has ever faced. At 13 years old, back in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sumaya helped raise her younger siblings when her mother battled cancer. Her father had migrated to Australia ahead of the family so Sumaya was both care taker for her mother and guardian of her siblings - two brothers and a younger sister. It was the hardest time of her life, she shared. But it made her into the resilient, resourceful and brave person she is today.
Sumaya’s mother did not survive her cancer to migrate to Australia with her children and reunite with her husband. But the experience and hard lessons she learned from being the primary care taker for her family prepared Sumaya for another tough year - 2020.
It’s been four years since she arrived to Melbourne, Sumaya is building a new life for herself. However Covid put a pause on her life again. On top of doing remote learning school, Sumaya along with her siblings had to put together again to support each other as now their father was diagnosed with cancer during the 2nd lockdown. For nearly forty days as Sumaya’s father received cancer treatment in hospital, he sadly couldn’t receive any visitors. Sumaya and her siblings remained at home doing school remotely and trying to make ends meet while their dad recovered from his surgery.
This year Sumaya is in Year 12. She was nominated to be captain of her school and looking forward to studying at uni next year. She has also appeared on TV ads speaking in her native language to members of her Afghan community to provide accurate covid safety information. The great news is that her father has returned home and is slowly recovering. One of the joys of Sumaya’s life is her little niece who also tagged a long during the photoshoot.
I met Sumaya and her siblings in their home. She wanted to take some photos in her traditional Hazara tribe clothing. So we started in her home and did some photos with some of her siblings and little niece. After we headed to her local park for the rest of her photoshoot for Project RESILIENT.
compassionate care taker and
confident school captain
I am a strong and brave person.
I'm not afraid to ask for help.
Sumaya’s entire life she has learnt to be resilient. As you will hear her say in the interview, she is a strong person, not because she handles everything on her own, but because she knows when she needs to ask for help.